Throwback Thursday: Mike Spielman
Aug. 10, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Mike Spielman, (Track & Field, 1986-89)
Mike Spielman came to Lawrence from the small town of Sabetha, where he would compete for legendary track and field coach Bob Timmons. During his years at Kansas, Spielman would take part in the NCAA National Championships, meet his future wife and build a solid foundation for his future coaching career. Fast forward two decades and Spielman has created a resume his former coach would be proud of, winning 19 state titles in 20-seasons as the head track and field coach of Baldwin High School in Baldwin, Kan.
How did you first get started running track? Was it something you always grew up with?
“I did not really start running until sixth grade. “I did the president’s physical fitness tests in grade school and I was pretty good at it and when you are good at something you take it on as one of your passions. I continued to run during junior high and senior high school, but I never traveled for the sport. Instead I just ran for the school.”
What made you decide to choose to go to school at Kansas?
“Being recruited by Coach Timmons was a big part of it. The track program, the school, and how much I enjoyed the campus on my visit played a big role as well.”
Speaking of the campus, what was it like coming to Lawrence from a small town like Sabetha?
“The biggest thing for me was the number of people because I grew up on a farm so it was a big change for me. I graduated from SabethaHigh School and my class only had 37 students in it. Compare that with when I went to KU (my freshman year), with over 20,000 students and it is a big change. It was a challenge to get used to that many students.”
What events did you compete in when you were at KU?
“I ran cross-country in the fall and then during the indoor and outdoor track seasons I competed in the 1,500 meter run, the steeplechase, and the 5,000 meter run. I mainly was a long distance guy when I ran for KU.”
Does a particular track meet or event stick out in your mind during you collegiate career?
“My final year (1989), when we went to Nationals is probably what I remember the most. We went to the NavalAcademy (in Annapolis, Md.), where the national meet was and that was by far the best time of my college career, especially with how well we did (finishing tied for 13th place).
What was it like competing in Nationals during your final as a collegiate athlete?
“The experience was extra special for me because it was my last year competing at KU. It was a great feeling to be able to go there, especially because it was the first time that I have ever been to the east coast. That trip is something that I really cherish.”
Your wife Angie also ran track at KU when you were there, is that how you met?
“Yes it was, however my first three years at Kansas, we had separate programs. During my senior year and her fifth year (1989), the programs were combined into one and that is how we really ended up meeting each other.”
What made you want to go into coaching once your career was over?
“My high school coach had a big influence on me. He was right out of college when he coached me in high school and he ran in college as well. The way he was passionate about the sport and how serious he took our practices and meets just really left an impression on me. He also made it fun for his athletes and that is why I really respected him as a coach. Also, Coach Timmons taught me a lot about the sport and what to do for certain events. These are the main two people that really have inspired me over the years.”
What coaching techniques have you taken from your Jayhawk days and used them at Baldwin?
“There are a lot of different things that I have taken from Kansas. The motivational tactics of my coaches, their workouts and philosophies to name a few are what I took with me in my coaching career. Also everything that I did during practice I have my athletes take part in, with a tweak here and there.”
You have won 20 state championships in the last 19-years as the head track coach at BaldwinHigh School, does your success surprise you?
“Each year for me has been a special year because I have new athletes that win state titles. It is their state championship and is very special to them and that is what makes me so happy each year when we are fortunate enough to win one. It is kind of mind boggling to see how much success all of my athletes have had for our school, but every now and then it is neat to look back on each title and remember that day. I am very fortunate to have the success that I have had since I started coaching. I am lucky to have had such great support and wonderful kids that helped us achieve what we have.”